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post #1 of 26 Old 02-27-2013, 08:00 PM - Thread Starter
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So I posted a thread here a couple of days ago asking "Why DIY?". Knowing nothing about DIY speakers, but being of a "tinkering" nature, I thought I'd ask a couple of preliminary questions. Thanks to all those that responded. Your responses has me quite interested in looking into this further.

I've read a number of the threads here, seen a number of builds, read through a couple of the FAQ's, etc. However, I still quite unclear about the real first steps one takes to investigate this further. I'm just a guy who went out looking for some great sounding speakers (nebulous and subjective statement, I know) and just haven't been able to find exactly what I want.

I have a dedicated space for my home theater, although nothing is in there just yet. Based on reading some room acoustics info, I know there will be a few challenges, but nothing that I don't think I can't address (although, not knowing much at this point, I may be fooled).

When looking at certain plans, do I place priority on room size, current (and planned) electronics, listening content, listening volumes, etc.? Being my first DIY, I would assume that build complexity would factor in to some degree.

It seems that the FAQ's I've seen here, any several of the links to other sites the members here offer in their posts, assume some level of familiarity with certain design types, popular "named" designs (and the associated terminology for those designs), sound characteristics, etc. I pretty much have none of that.

I will say that of the many in-store speakers that I've listened to (B&W, Definitive Technology, Paradigm, PSB, Polk, Klipsch, and Energy to name a few) the Paradigms have been my favorite. Although as you know, all of the demos would have been in less than ideal conditions and with less than ideal content (the PSB dealer plugged in his Andriod phone via the headphone jack to the AVR for content - I wouldn't think this is ideal).

Given my space, I would most likely go with a 5.1 system. If asked to choose between best HT sound or best music, I would choose music as the first priority - with classical being the targeted content. I am not after volume - shaking the walls isn't my objective.

What else is important? What are the key elements that dictate a given direction (for ex: horn vs. tweeter? it seems that may be one design criteria based on my reading but maybe I've gotten it wrong so far) for speaker types, sizes, etc? What are some of the key elements I am missing? What things should I focus on initially for learning purposes? Looking at existing builds is exciting, but most aren't instructional in nature for those lacking no knowledge in speakers, much less DIY speakers.

Thanks. I appreciate your patience with these entry-level questions.
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post #2 of 26 Old 02-27-2013, 09:28 PM
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post #3 of 26 Old 02-27-2013, 09:47 PM
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What you should do is build a small pair of reasonably price speakers that come with a well laid out plan. Try zaphaudio.com for some well documented designs.
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post #4 of 26 Old 02-27-2013, 10:42 PM
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Some good advice so far. If you're looking to be pointed in a more specific direction, some mention of budget might be helpful. Also, how big is too big, particularly for main L/R speakers and subwoofer?
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post #5 of 26 Old 02-27-2013, 10:54 PM
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Also, you said this is a dedicated room. Does that mean you're going to have a projector setup? Do you have any kind of placement constraints, could you for example have a vertically oriented center channel? That would be an ideal setup, but most people either dont have a room that allows it, or arent aware of the benefits.
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post #6 of 26 Old 02-28-2013, 08:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Quick thanks for the info so far. I'll take some time and review. Long day at work today so not much time to dwell on speakers frown.gif.

I'll provide more details on dedicated room soon.

Budget is a tough one. If I were to plan for all at once then I'd probably cap at $2500 or so unless presented with a compelling argument to go higher. If I take it in steps - building fronts, then sub, center, then surrounds (or whatever the right order is - another idea is surrounds first to get my feet wet) them I'd be willing to take the budget up to $3500 or so. However I don't really know at this point whether this is too big of a budget or not. If $1500 gets me what I want then that's more money for other toys!
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post #7 of 26 Old 02-28-2013, 03:34 PM
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The most important thing is to understand that everything needs to work together as a system....speakers, sources, amplification, video display, room acoustics, budget, and last but not least, your wife/SO. You will get a ton of suggestions for optimizing a particular performance metric that are great....except for your system. For example, a 10 cubic foot subwoofer can give you excellent performance with relatively low budget drivers and amp....but it is useless if you don't have room for it.

My $0.02 worth...

start with a pair of smallish (8" or 10" woofer) constant directivity design such as
http://www.diysoundgroup.com/waveguide-speaker-kits/fusion-series-kits/fusion8-kit.html or http://techtalk.parts-express.com/showthread.php?215536-Flex-Your-PCD-Mettle/page11&p=1639915#post1639915 (hint - waveguide and other components available via DIYSoundgroup)
Toe in and use a phantom center channel....efficient enough to get stupid loud with ~100W AVR power. Normal people do not need more than this tongue.gif Excellent clarity and dynamics for music.

Add a 15" subwoofer/amp....too many good options....pick an enclosure size first...then budget.

That will get you started and you can always double back and build larger mains (or smaller surrounds) and add a second (or third and fourth) subwoofer if you see the need.
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post #8 of 26 Old 02-28-2013, 09:14 PM
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You really need to figure out what kind of theater you want. You say you don't volume and your priority is music, right? The first step I would take is to order reasonable set of speakers and or subs that have a return policy just to start getting an idea of what sound you are after. Will you have a big screen? Will it be acoustically transparent? I you say yes I would order 3 pairs of magnepan MMG's for $1800. Use 5 of them in a 5.0 speaker setting and buy a decent sub. The MMG are returnable and not that big so it won't cost you much to start learning. The MMG's are great HT and especially classical music speakers but don't at reference volumes in an average size room. This will get you an idea of what type of sound you may or may not like. You say you like Paradigms, maybe? I though these MMG's sound better than the SIG 6's I heard but just my opinion. DIY is awesome but before doing all that work and effort I would try some cheaper ID companies with a return policy. The cost of returning stuff is worth the education for yourself.

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post #9 of 26 Old 02-28-2013, 09:23 PM
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So the best way to get into DIY is to spend all your money on Magepan MMGs? eek.gif

I would build a pair of overnight sensations. They are like $120 and they freakin' rock. They have an MTM version also, which is ... louder. Parts Express and DIY sound group both sell kits. So does Mensicus Audio. Paul Carmody also designed a matching Center Channel.

But, if you just started with a $120 pair of overnight sensations, you wouldn't kill your budget, you'd have some great speakers, and you could jump into DIY.

I built a pair for my grandma. The first time she listened to them, it made her cry.
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post #10 of 26 Old 02-28-2013, 09:37 PM
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Except if he does not like them he is out $120 and a whole bunch of time and energy. That could make someone scared to try again. He could buy a pair at first and return them and be out maybe $50. I have tried many speakers including DIY and for low level classical music mixed with HT at low levels(less than reference) I would take the MMG's any day. For that purpose I would pick them over triple 8's, JBL cinemas, M&K's, a speaker very similar to the DIY SEOS deltalite 12 kits, and my current speakers. I though they sound great for the price. However, my goals are different and wanted very loud dynamic speakers so I went a different route. It is all about ones goals and we really don't have any listed except 5.1, dedicated room, a moving budget from $2500-$3500, more musical than loud, and a dedicated room. I would say trying MMG's for a cost of $50 for a return is a good way to start. No wasted time and energy and a good starting place. This coming from a guy who has a 100% DIY room and speakers.

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post #11 of 26 Old 02-28-2013, 10:48 PM
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I also wouldn't discount high-efficiency speakers for classical music, even at moderate volumes - someone who enjoys large scale orchestral music may appreciate the uncompressed dynamics of a larger and more efficient system.

The more basic problem is one of risk management, as has been hinted at above. Unless one has been in a position to audition a wide variety of speakers (preferably beyond the usual big box brands), it's impossible to even begin to guess what certain types of speakers sound like - and even with boatloads of experience one can never be sure. That's the existential problem of starting in on DIY - UNLESS you also enjoy the process, the learning and building and discovery.

So if that last bit doesn't describe you, by all means buy something you can return OR build something easy and inexpensive (low risk) OR find a way to listen to a wide variety of speakers understanding it may be a long haul and there will always be some risk involved.
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post #12 of 26 Old 02-28-2013, 11:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djkest View Post

I built a pair for my grandma. The first time she listened to them, it made her cry.

Marketing opportunity -- Overnight Sensations: they'll make your grandma cry!

Classical music has huge dynamic range. It is a bit against intuition, but it can require more from a playback system than heavy metal, etc. I'm listening to some pretty loud right now, and the power is awesome. smile.gif

-Max
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post #13 of 26 Old 02-28-2013, 11:21 PM
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Build some seos or pi high efficiency speakers. That's what's hot in DIY around here. Their dynamics make them great for HT and classical. They aren't very hard to build (particularly if you get a flat pack), and you'll get great support from this community and pi and/or diysoundgroup.

Jump in; the water is great. biggrin.gif

-Max
My builds: Thtlp sub, econowave Sr speakers, auto tuba subs, seos15/dna360/td15m, more to come...
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post #14 of 26 Old 03-01-2013, 07:17 AM
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Don't get me wrong guys, I would say jump on the seos kits as well. I guess if he does not like them he could sell them as built speakers and people around here love them. Unfortunately many would want them cheaper than new being used. Trust me, I have sold many things and all the DIY stuff which is also raved about takes the biggest hit as resale value is concerned.

Also remember although classical music has great dynamic capabilities if not played very loud high sensitive speakers are not required. I play loud and love classical music on my 110 dB sensitive DIY speakers!

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post #15 of 26 Old 03-01-2013, 07:29 AM
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OP still has gotten back with any specifics, but there are plenty of options out there for him that will sound amazing for music, and still do HT justice.

http://meniscusaudio.com/swope-tower-pair-p-1334.html

http://meniscusaudio.com/swope-center-p-1335.html

http://meniscusaudio.com/swope-pair-p-1304.html
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post #16 of 26 Old 03-01-2013, 09:09 AM
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My thoughts:

Does the budget need to include???
- TV/projector (if needed in the budget, it can throw it way out of whack)
- Receiver/Amp

If you need a receiver, I'd go with something with pre-outs for at least the mains (FL and FR), preferably with preouts. With preouts, if you need more powah, you have an easy upgrade path. - $500 or so

Speakers - Overnight Sensations or Swope would both be nice budget plans ~$500 or so for a 5 speaker setup?
OS - MTMs for Mains, MTs for surrounds, MMTMM (center) for center - flat packs+kit (cabinet boards, xover and drivers) available for MTMs and MTs; I haven't found flat packs for the center channel, just a kit
Swope - Swope Towers for Mains, MTs for surrounds, MTM (center) for center - I haven't seen flat packs at all, just kits (xover and drivers)

Sub - ?? nice 10" kit, perhaps? ~ $400 or so

So... you could build a good receiver+5 speaker+Sub buildout for less than $1500, and if you did the OS setup, you'd only have to do the cabinet for the center channel.

If you're talking about buying all commercial speakers, you'd have to spend at least ~$300 per speaker to get similar sound quality.

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post #17 of 26 Old 03-01-2013, 09:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Wow, thanks for the additional input. I am paying attention and reading. This week has been exceptionally hectic at work (independent consultant, out 2 days for jury duty, so making up 40 hours through the rest of the week).

Hopefully I can address a couple of points quickly. I'll try and address more either later tonight or tomorrow.

Measured room last night. Post specific later but essentially 9' to video (Panny 65vt50). Room 143" deep and 112" wide. 88" to 9' ceiling. Windows along one 143" side with about a 100" opening on the other side into a larger room. Windows and opening into other room will be on right and left of listening/viewing.

Right now I have a Pioneer Elite VSX-03 but will upgrade to either another avr or pre/pro and separate 5 or 7 channel amp, of conservative size, at some point.

Current speakers are Boston acoustics 5.1. Cr95 in front, matching center (crc?), cr65 in rear I think ( not installed ) and pv800 12" sub

Again, that for all the helpful input. I appreciate your time.

EDIT - Budget is for speakers only. Although I may replace the Pioneer, that's not included in my speaker "willingness".
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post #18 of 26 Old 03-01-2013, 07:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MKtheater View Post

I would say trying MMG's for a cost of $50 for a return is a good way to start. No wasted time and energy and a good starting place.

Obviously demo'ing speakers in home is the right approach in many (most?) cases. I'd probably be willing to do that with locally-bought speakers if I could find the ones I really want to try. However, ordering and having to worry about returning is sometimes problematic for me. My days, during normal business hours, are completely swamped and it's pretty tough to get to a shipper. I'd worry I'd get stuck with a set that I don't really care for. Unfortunately, my business-hours schedule really is that busy much of the time. Therefore, this approach probably doesn't suite me right now. I'd rather "waste" building a pair for $200 than go through the effort to return.

Quote:
Originally Posted by antisuck View Post

I also wouldn't discount high-efficiency speakers for classical music, even at moderate volumes - someone who enjoys large scale orchestral music may appreciate the uncompressed dynamics of a larger and more efficient system.

The more basic problem is one of risk management, as has been hinted at above. Unless one has been in a position to audition a wide variety of speakers (preferably beyond the usual big box brands), it's impossible to even begin to guess what certain types of speakers sound like - and even with boatloads of experience one can never be sure. That's the existential problem of starting in on DIY - UNLESS you also enjoy the process, the learning and building and discovery.

So if that last bit doesn't describe you, by all means buy something you can return OR build something easy and inexpensive (low risk) OR find a way to listen to a wide variety of speakers understanding it may be a long haul and there will always be some risk involved.

Help me with the first statement - why would the efficiency of a speaker (and what is that exactly) affect the suitability for classical music? Or did I misunderstand you?

Risk? I'm all up for risk. I do ww'ing, although sporadically. I can afford to waste some $'s learning the DIY speaker way if it means I get what I want in the end. At this point, I feel building a "starter" set is really no-risk except for time and money. Not worried about the money. Gotta find the time. smile.gif


As to the other 4 or 5 that provided specific build suggestions - a question about some of those. I remember seeing an online video review (yes, I know, "they can't put something on the internet unless it's true") of the KEF Q900 speakers where they were praised, but the reviewer mentioned (right or wrong) that the best didn't come out until the volume was fairly high. As I've mentioned, I'd prefer a speaker where this wasn't the case, if that's not a standard characteristic of speakers. I am all about moderate volume. Being in the "prime" of life, one thinks about all the years of loud music, and thoughts turn to protection of hearing.

I do listen to other types of music than classical, but that's where I get my real enjoyment. I do want some HT functionality mixed in there though.

I think I mentioned in another post above that I may get another AVR to replace the Pioneer (it's a few years old) or go with separates. However, I'm not looking at massive amps. Something like the Outlaw 7125 or even the Marantz M7055 would suit me fine I think.

Some of the input has gotten me thinking about building the rears first. Start off small. But choose rears that having very nice matching fronts and center. Any opinions here?

I am still digesting all the info given above. Lots of learning and material to go through. What fun!
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post #19 of 26 Old 03-01-2013, 07:35 PM
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Quote:
Some of the input has gotten me thinking about building the rears first. Start off small. But choose rears that having very nice matching fronts and center. Any opinions here?

Definitely a very good path to take. Another thing you could also do along the same line of thinking is to pick up one of the waveguide kits and a traditional style speaker, in kind of a budget DIY speaker shoot out.

Swope MTM

http://meniscusaudio.com/swope-mtm-p-1305.html

VS

Karma-8

http://www.diysoundgroup.com/waveguide-speaker-kits/karma8-kit.html

Both are about $250 pr. You could always take the losing pair and combine it with a budget amp to add a nice stereo somewhere else in your house

http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?partnumber=300-380
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post #20 of 26 Old 03-01-2013, 08:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AgeOfEmpires View Post

Help me with the first statement - why would the efficiency of a speaker (and what is that exactly) affect the suitability for classical music? Or did I misunderstand you?
Sorry I wasn't clearer. When you look around this particular forum and see mention of SEOS this and that all over the place, you may have gathered that these are designs and kits that revolve around a compression driver tweeter mounted on a waveguide, paired with large (10"-15") midwoofers culled from pro audio. These speakers have several strengths, among them high efficiency. This gives them the ability to play shockingly loud without requiring much power, but perhaps more importantly allows them to deliver the full impact of films and music without suffering much in the way of strain or compression; at sane listening levels they tend to be loafing along, idling, nowhere near their limits and all the cleaner for it, and able to deliver big dynamics easily when called upon to do so.

Lots of people are interested in this type of speaker because, in a proper room and with a proper setup, they can meet or exceed the scale and impact delivered by the best commercial movie theaters. But these same qualities might make for a very satisfying reproduction of large-scale orchestral music, if that's your thing. A live symphony orchestra can deliver immense dynamics, and most speakers fall far short of being able to reproduce that aspect. The SEOS project speakers are one example of a type of speaker that is better able to deliver in that department.

Just a single data point for consideration; I don't even own a pair, I've just learned what can be expected from this type of speaker. Lots of alternatives out there, each with different strengths and relative weaknesses.
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post #21 of 26 Old 03-02-2013, 09:51 PM - Thread Starter
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I've been spending some time reviewing options and links provided. One question that occurs to me is speaker placement. In particular, several of the designs on the Zaph Audio site specifically mention speaker placement - typically well away from the walls. My dilemma is that my dedicate space is small enough that I will have limited placement options and the speakers will be pushed into the corners for the most part (especially the rears).

Of several options given so far, can anyone see advantages to any of the designs that may be more suited to my use? If I do start with the rears first - an option I'm favoring more at this moment - I'm envisioning something on stands to raise them to ear level. Given space constraints they will be in the corners of the room. Also, please keep in mind that any option would ideally have "companion" front, sub and center plans. Some of the details in the plans don't address speaker placement as explicitly as the Zaph site does.

Great fun learning so far!
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post #22 of 26 Old 03-02-2013, 10:49 PM
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Home theater is all about compromise. You generally want to keep the mains away from the walls due to bass reinforcement. Bass get boomy and over exaggerated when speakers are placed close to boundaries. Hence why a lot of guys will corner load subs. Good room treatments and modern eq's nowadays have really aided in these situations however. I would not pass building something based on that alone.

I would worry a lot less about the rears. They don't play low enough, and there is such minimal information they are playing; you aren't going to notice a little extra reinforcement. In fact, in some instances, it could actually be a good thing. I'd be more worried about imaging with sound bouncing off everything than anything else.

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post #23 of 26 Old 03-03-2013, 02:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Any opinions between the Overnight Sensations and the Zaph ZA5.2 configuration (http://zaphaudio.com/ZA5/) in a MT configuration? I am intrigued by the waveguide's too. However, the more I look into this the more I see all kinds of potential uses that will allow me to experiment with various speakers before I get to replacing the HT's. After 2-3 builds (or more), I'll have a better idea of what I want and feel more confident in a much larger budget for the "final" configuration.

In the meantime, I've got a soundbar in my family room I can replace (maybe with at set of one of the two listed above?), a bedroom and spare room I can put a set into, and a dad who would love to have a set of nice speakers to go with the Samsung 50" LED I gave him and my mom for Christmas.

Along the lines of the two above, I am still looking at the Swope's too, but I've found more info so far on the OS's and the Zaph designs as a whole.

I know I can buy a complete pack for the OS build, but that won't weigh into a decision at this point - I feel comfortable with my cabinet making skills although this extends the build complexity and time to completion.

One of the intriguing items I have read about the OS's is the nice sound at lower volumes - an important characteristic if they were to go into the family room. Do the ZA5.2's fit this criteria also? Part of the interest in the ZA5.2's (beyond the apparent reputation of the Zaph designs) is the higher price point. I know that $'s doesn't always translate into value, but sometimes it does, which is part of my interest in the differences between these two and if the ZA5.2's are just a little ahead of the OS's.


Thanks again.
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post #24 of 26 Old 03-04-2013, 06:12 PM - Thread Starter
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As I looked more and more at the OS's and the many, many build threads, I figured it was a no-loss proposition. They will get me started. I am still interested in some of the Zaph's, the Swopes and the SEOS. Once the OS's are done, I'll be looking to check out my next step. If I don't enjoy the build (I'll be very surprised if I don't), I'm not out big bucks. If I do, I'll be honing my skills looking down the road at the main system speakers. I have a fairly decent budget (at least to me, anyways) so any money spent now is well-spent learning certain aspects of speaker characteristics, build processes, etc. that can only benefit my eventual HT setup. Plus along the way, I can accumulate a few speaker sets for various rooms, gifts, etc. - if I'm any good at building them, that is.

Ordered the kit from Meniscus. Unfortunately it seems they are a little short on tweeters at the moment, so I'll have to wait a week or so.

Thanks again to everyone.
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post #25 of 26 Old 03-04-2013, 07:31 PM
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Originally Posted by AgeOfEmpires View Post

As I looked more and more at the OS's and the many, many build threads, I figured it was a no-loss proposition. They will get me started. I am still interested in some of the Zaph's, the Swopes and the SEOS. Once the OS's are done, I'll be looking to check out my next step. If I don't enjoy the build (I'll be very surprised if I don't), I'm not out big bucks. If I do, I'll be honing my skills looking down the road at the main system speakers. I have a fairly decent budget (at least to me, anyways) so any money spent now is well-spent learning certain aspects of speaker characteristics, build processes, etc. that can only benefit my eventual HT setup. Plus along the way, I can accumulate a few speaker sets for various rooms, gifts, etc. - if I'm any good at building them, that is.

Ordered the kit from Meniscus. Unfortunately it seems they are a little short on tweeters at the moment, so I'll have to wait a week or so.

Thanks again to everyone.

Good choice. Those speakers will surprise with their sound quality and bass capabilities, just dont expect them to get crazy loud (4" woofer and all). You can definitely use them as surrounds with the Swope HT as well. The woofer and tweeter are smaller versions from the same line of drivers.
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post #26 of 26 Old 03-04-2013, 08:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Good choice. Those speakers will surprise with their sound quality and bass capabilities, just dont expect them to get crazy loud (4" woofer and all). You can definitely use them as surrounds with the Swope HT as well. The woofer and tweeter are smaller versions from the same line of drivers.

Won't go loud. I'm too old for that. (and I'm not even that old just yet)

Your comparison suggestion above is really what led me to the OS's first. Being fairly confident in my ww'ing skills, I immediately dismissed the OS's when they were suggested because of their price point - no way would I fit those into my view of what I want in my 5.1 setup - I was looking to spend much, much more to build a very robust set for my HT. However when you suggested that I compare the Swopes and the Karma-8's, it got me thinking about a step-wise/discovery/learning approach - a much better approach, I think. In the end I'll eventually wind up with a much better set of HT speakers, I think, building 2-3 varieties of smaller speakers ahead of time. I'm not worried about the few hundred $'s along the way.

I am intrigued with waveguide stuff, so I will try a variety of those, maybe even next. I've got my eye on the Swopes for potentially a 5.1 system for my dad. Probably start of with the rears first there to see what they sound like and then add the rest if I like them. After all of that, I think I may be a little more prepared to set a course for more expensive and extensive speakers. We'll see!

Thanks again.
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